Outdoors

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Celebrate National Trails Day by giving back

Posted By on Sat, May 28, 2016 at 8:50 AM

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If there's one thing to take away from the battle of the Broadmoor/City land swap, it’s that we in Colorado Springs LOVE our parks. And it’s not just city parks — it's county, state and national parks. We love our parks.

Often, we love them to death. Our parks are used so much that it’s difficult for the various parks staff or volunteer groups to keep up with needed maintenance and repairs. The amount of work always exceeds the amount of hands available to get it all done.

Next Saturday, June 4th, is National Trails Day. This is a prime opportunity for you, either as an individual, a family or a group, to make a difference in one of our local parks or on a local trail.

Created in 1993 by the American Hiking Society, the first Saturday of June is dedicated to celebrating our country’s trails. With the backing of federal agencies such as the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and others, the AHS helps to coordinate National Trails Day events around the country. The over-arching goal of the yearly celebration is to encourage people to get acquainted, or reacquainted, with hiking, camping, trail construction and maintenance and other outdoor activities in their communities.

With an expanding population and increasing tourism, our trails are truly being "loved to death." We have become somewhat of a victim of our own success. The need for new trails and for maintenance of our current trails is important to help sustain our outdoor way of life. 

Locally, National Trails Day is used to bring people together to help improve our parks and trails. 

This year, there are projects in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado Springs, Black Forest, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Woodland Park and Larkspur. You can find more information about National Trails Day events by going to the AHS website, the Trails and Open Space Coalition website or the Rocky Mountain Field Institute website.

I plan on being at one of the project sites on June 4th, and I hope you do, too. You'll get to meet great people and will gain a better understanding of what it takes to build and maintain our outdoor activity resources.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Crags is closed for tree removal

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 2:03 PM

The Crags is really beautiful. But probably not worth a serious head wound or death. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • The Crags is really beautiful. But probably not worth a serious head wound or death.

Planning a fun hike or camping trip at the Crags this weekend? Don't. 

The Pikes Peak Ranger District has temporarily closed the area due to hazardous trees. Beetle kill trees are apparently in danger of falling on people and will need to be removed. Read on for the details:

PIKES PEAK RANGER DISTRICT TEMPORARILY CLOSED CRAGS AREA UNTIL HAZARD TREES ARE REMOVED
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 23, 2016…The Pikes Peak Ranger District of the Pike-San Isabel National Forest has temporarily closed the Crags area, including the Crags Campground and Forest Road 383, due to a large number of trees that pose a safety hazard to the public.

U.S. Forest Service personnel have discovered hazardous trees in areas frequently used by visitors for camping. A spruce beetle infestation several years ago has left many of the shallow rooted spruce trees standing dead along Forest Road 383. The closure will last several weeks until the hazard trees can be cut from the campground and parking areas.

This closure prohibits all public entry into the area including camping, day use, hiking, and access to the Crags and Devils Playground trails off of Forest Road 383 in Teller County.

Hazard tree removal and associated road closures are expected along FS Road 383 over the next few years. Initially, crews will work to improve safety near the campground and trailheads, but will continue working along the roadway later this fall and in future years.

Once U.S. Forest Service crews have finished cutting the hazard trees in the campground and at the trailheads, the road will re-open, however camping will be only allowed in the Crags Campground and parking will only be allowed at designated trailheads and within the campground. Dispersed camping and campfires along FS Road 383 will be prohibited due to safety concerns from the hazard trees once the road has been re-opened.
The Crags Area is a popular area for camping with the trailheads that lead to popular destinations such as the rocky outcropping of “The Crags” and the summit of Pikes Peak via the Devils Playground Trail.

Visitors are urged to take extra precautions when recreating in the area this summer due to the number of hazard trees in the vicinity.

For more information about the Crags area and closure, please contact the Pikes Peak Ranger District at (719) 636-1602. More information about alternate camping and recreation areas can also be found on Recreation.gov: www.recreation.gov or, the Pike-San Isabel National Forest public website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/psicc

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Jeep Arch hike, Moab

Posted By on Sat, May 21, 2016 at 8:58 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
Located west of Moab,Utah,  Jeep Arch is a fun, moderately strenuous hike to a uniquely shaped arch in the Utah desert. And, as I try to do with all my hikes, it also features some great views.   Total round trip distance is just under 4 miles.

To get there:  Take US 191 north out of Moab to Potash Road (before the entrance to Arches National Park) and turn left.  Take Potash Road for approximately 10.5 miles to mile marker 5, just past a marked parking lot and trailhead for the more popular Corona Arch trail. Look for a small pull-out on the right and a culvert going under the railroad tracks, this is your starting point.

Slideshow
Jeep Arch hike, Moab
Jeep Arch hike, Moab Jeep Arch hike, Moab Jeep Arch hike, Moab Jeep Arch hike, Moab Jeep Arch hike, Moab Jeep Arch hike, Moab Jeep Arch hike, Moab Jeep Arch hike, Moab

Jeep Arch hike, Moab

By Bob Falcone

Click to View 23 slides



Happy Trails!


Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Moab's Hidden Valley Trail

Posted By on Sat, May 14, 2016 at 3:43 PM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
Moab, Utah has a lot in common with Colorado Springs. Like Colorado Springs, its residents and visitors tend to be avid outdoor enthusiasts. They like to hike, run, cycle and photograph the great scenery that surrounds them. And Moab is a major tourist destination, just like the Springs, being the home to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and many hundreds of square miles of other Federal lands available for recreational use.

Moab is a small town that literally explodes from spring through autumn with visitors, most of whom crowd into the national parks — no doubt that if you visit you'll want to do the same thing. The views and scenery are incredible and there is nothing equal to it anyplace on earth.

If you're like me, eventually you'll have your fill of society and want to go someplace a little less crowded. One of those place is Hidden Valley, just south-west of Moab. It's a nice little gem of a place and makes for a great hike. Total distance from the trailhead to the pass at the north end of the Hidden Valley and back is approximately 4 miles.

To get there: Take Highway 191 south from Moab for approximately 3 miles and then right onto Angel Rock Road. It's marked with only a small street sign, so it's easy to miss. Take Angel Rock Road a couple of blocks until it ends at Rim Rock Road and turn right. At the end of the road, bear left to the obvious parking lot.

Slideshow
The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah
The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah

The Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, Utah

By Bob Falcone

Click to View 12 slides



Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.









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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Be a better outdoor advocate

Posted By on Sat, May 7, 2016 at 9:01 AM

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The classic western High Noon — in my opinion the best western film ever made — tells the story of a town marshal who, as he is getting ready to leave town with his new bride and start a new life elsewhere, gets word that a notorious outlaw Frank Miller is coming to town.

Instead of riding out of town, Marshal Will Kane stays, hoping to defend the town against Miller and his cohorts. The townspeople — and even his own deputy — abandon Kane, leaving him to defend the town on his own. It’s great story of honor, integrity, dedication, duty — as well as cowardice and mob mentality.

The last time I watched High Noon was around the same time I head about how some miscreants did significant damage to the fragile and ancient sandstone in Arches National Park in Utah. They had carved their names and other things into the sandstone, causing irreparable damage. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. A few years ago, some Boy Scout leaders were found to have toppled over ancient rock formations on other federal land in Utah. And evidence of vandalism in the form of carving, graffiti and other types of damage are found regularly in Colorado state, county and city parks.

So where am I going with all this? The people who commit these acts are like the Frank Miller’s of our society; they come into our parks with the intent to do damage. Often times they do it when others are around; people who can stop it or, say something or report it, but don’t. Those people are like the townspeople.

Sometimes, someone stands up to the vandals. Sort of like Will Kane.

Of course, High Noon is a shoot-em up western, so my comparison is more figurative than it is literal. Do not physically confront someone who is doing damage, and don't take it upon yourself to "fix" any damage you see done — your good intentions may cause more damage. But it takes little effort to report what you see. If you’re in a group where someone is doing some damage, say something to discourage bad behavior.

What I really want you to take away from this is pretty simple:

Don’t be Frank Miller. Don’t be the cowardly townspeople. Be Will Kane.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Photo tour: 4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area

Posted By on Sat, Apr 30, 2016 at 10:31 AM

pikespeakfromfourmileoverlook.jpg
Located adjacent to Mueller State Park in Teller County, Dome Rock State Wildlife Area has some great hiking and horseback trails. And although most of the south end of the area is off limits from December 1 through July 15 to accommodate big-horn sheep breeding, there are plenty of other trails to enjoy.

One of my favorite hikes is to the Four Mile Overlook. It's a long hike at 11 miles round trip, with a couple of miles of uphill hiking, but well worth it for the views. Due to it's length and difficulty, you'll want to be well prepared for this hike, and plan for it to take most of the day.

As a side note, when I returned home from this hike, I found a few tiny Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks on me. I have hiked Dome Rock SWA many times and never encountered this, and I assume that they may be just starting to appear with the recent warm weather. But these ticks can spread Colorado Tick Fever. I suggest wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts and spraying yourself  with a DEET-based insect repellent if you visit this area.

(The mileages in the slideshow cations below are approximate, measured with a personal GPS.)

Slideshow
4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area
4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area 4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area 4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area 4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area 4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area 4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area 4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area 4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area

4 Mile Overlook - Dome Rock State Wildlife Area

By Bob Falcone

Click to View 27 slides



To get there, take Highway 67 south from Highway 24 in Divide for 5 miles and turn right onto Teller County Road 61. Take County Road 61 for 3 miles to the well marked entrance to the Wildlife Area.

Happy Trails!


Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Photo tour: West Woodmen Trail loop in Blodgett Peak Open Space

Posted By on Sat, Apr 23, 2016 at 8:31 AM

Remnants of the Waldo Canyon Fire are visible from the trail. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Remnants of the Waldo Canyon Fire are visible from the trail.
Built with little fan fare or attention, and not readily visible, the West Woodmen Trail (not to be confused with the "Woodmen Trail") is a nice trail that can join up with trails in the Blodgett Open Space to create some nice loop hikes.

The West Woodmen trailhead is at Blodgett Ranch Trail and West Woodmen Road, near where West Woodmen Road becomes Centennial Drive. Unfortunately, you can't park anywhere near the trailhead, since there are no parking signs on Blodgett Ranch Trail and also bike lanes on West Woodmen Road. The nearest parking is about 1000-feet away on Sawback Trail.

Blodgett Peak Open Space is marred by having the worst maps and signage in the Colorado Springs Park system. Both the map posted at its parking lot and online are devoid of any trail names or mileages, and it doesn't appear that they show all the trails. Those maps will be of little use in finding your way around, and that's where this slideshow comes in.

Slideshow
West Woodmen Trail loop
West Woodmen Trail loop West Woodmen Trail loop West Woodmen Trail loop West Woodmen Trail loop West Woodmen Trail loop West Woodmen Trail loop West Woodmen Trail loop West Woodmen Trail loop

West Woodmen Trail loop

By Bob Falcone

Click to View 14 slides



Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Celebrate 100 years of National Parks

Posted By on Sat, Apr 16, 2016 at 10:38 AM

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Even though the anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service isn’t until August 25th, events celebrating the NPS’s 100th birthday will be going on all year.

One of the biggest events is National Park Week, which runs from April 16-24. For 9 straight days, entry fees to the more than 400 National Parks, Monuments and properties managed by the NPS are waived.

Colorado is home to a number of sites operated by the NPS, and National Park Week is your opportunity to visit your favorites, and explore new places like Browns Canyon National Monument near Buena Vista, created just last year.

Of course, you can take advantage of National Park Week and visit nearby places like Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument or the ever popular Rocky Mountain National Park. But keep in mind that more unique places like Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, are just a couple hours away from Colorado Springs.

Nymph Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Nymph Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
And while you’re at it, take a road trip to the western slope and check out the stunning views at the Colorado National Monument, or the remote and pre-historic setting of  Dinosaur National Monument.

You can't beat the history on display at Mesa Verde National Park or Hovenweep National Monument — taking you back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. And you may want to visit the little known Yucca House National Monument, while you're out there — I didn’t even know about it until I was doing research for this blog.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and nearby Curecanti National Recreation Area are vastly different from each other and offer many recreation options, both deserve to be on your list as well.

Among other places to visit: Bent’s Old Fort and the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Sites, and parts of the historic California, Pony Express, Santa Fe, and
Old Spanish Trails also pass through Colorado, you won't be disappointed by any them.

There is no shortage of National Parks, Monuments and Sites to visit in Colorado. National Parks Week is the perfect opportunity to re-visit your favorites and explore new places.

Happy trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

GOCO shows us the money

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 1:47 PM

CITY OF MANITOU SPRINGS
  • City of Manitou Springs
Lottery money from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) will go to fund the reconstruction of a baby pool in Manitou Springs, the expansion of sports fields in Ellicott School District, and a "facelift" for the county fairgrounds.

In all, the projects have been granted $699,413.

GOCO's board allocates funds from the Colorado Lottery around the state to preserve and enhance parks, trails and other outdoor spaces. 

Here are the details:
GOCO awards nearly $700,000 to El Paso County outdoor recreation projects

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded three grants totaling $699,413 Thursday to El Paso County communities. The City of Manitou Springs received $80,500 for the reconstruction of the public baby pool. El Paso County was awarded a $343,913 grant on behalf of the Ellicott School District to expand sports fields and a $275,000 grant for the county fairgrounds.

In Manitou, the existing pool for the city’s youngest swimmers is 44 years old, with unsafe and grossly inefficient structural issues. The pool, which is part of the larger community aquatic center, currently leaks beyond what yearly patching can fix. The pool was also designed with a hole built into one end that presents additional safety issues.

After having to turn away half of the families wanting to use the pool, GOCO funding will allow Manitou to accommodate up to 40 children. The larger pool also means new swimming classes for babies and preschool children. The GOCO grant will also build a kid-sized entry to the pool and update plumbing.

Manitou aims to have the project finished in fall 2016, aided by the local swim team that raised $1,000 for the new pool and will assist with minor construction and clean-up. Troop 18 of the Boy Scouts of America has also offered their support, including an Eagle Scout hopeful interested in the project.

In Ellicott, the school district partnered with El Paso County to receive funding for new sports fields. The current fields are at capacity, with football, baseball, and soccer all sharing fields. Expanding the athletic fields will impact the more than 1,000 students at the shared elementary, middle, and high school campus.

The school district site also serves as a community gathering place in this rural, unincorporated area of El Paso County. Many families of students come from nearby Schriever Air Force Base, and the school district serves a diverse, low-income population; 70 percent of students are on free and reduced lunch.

In addition to accommodating more student athletes, the new fields will also create the opportunity for outdoor science classes and will be used by Ellicott Metro District sports leagues. Sports fields at the school district site are the only public fields in the community.
Students will help with fundraising efforts for soccer nets and bleachers, with the school district hoping to have the project finished by September 2016.

In another rural El Paso community, the county fairgrounds will be getting a facelift to incorporate more outdoor recreation options. Located just south of Calhan, the fairgrounds support a variety of programming including El Paso County 4H, Calhan Schools, Eastern El Paso County Senior Services, and more.

Existing facilities at the fairgrounds are geared primarily toward agricultural and equestrian programming and the county fair, but the county intends to create a year-round hub for residents across the county. GOCO funding will construct an open-air pavilion, playground, splash pad, shade and landscaping, and picnic tables in addition to bringing electricity to the fairgrounds campground, fixing drainage issues on the dirt race track, and improving accessibility to the entrance.

The new pavilion will host events, including environmental educational programming, for up to 400 people, and the new playground and splash pad will be ADA-compliant. The county anticipates finishing the upgrades in September 2017 with the help of local boy scouts and 4-H members.

To date, GOCO has invested nearly $51 million in El Paso County has conserved more than 8,000 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported the reconstruction of the Manitou Incline, flood restoration at Harlan Wolf Park , and recovery from the Black Forest Fire. The Pikes Peak Region was also recently named a GOCO Inspire pilot community and will be part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,700 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit goco.org for more information.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

North Cheyenne Cañon will be sprayed for moths. Learn more tonight.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 12:06 PM

Douglas fir tussock moth larvae will be killed by spraying later this year. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • Douglas fir tussock moth larvae will be killed by spraying later this year.
In January, I wrote about the city's plan to treat parts of the urban forest for a moth infestation. 

You can read the full story here. But, in short, the area around North Cheyenne Cañon is very overgrown and at risk for fire. That risk is being exacerbated by invasive moths that could kill off trees, leaving behind dry wood. Because of that the city wants to kill the moth larvae.

To do that, the city plans to spray the forest with a bacteria. Here's part of what a I wrote about that in January:

The city, working with privative land owners, plans to spray North Cheyenne Cañon Park, Blodgett Peak, Bear Creek Cañon Park, Seven Falls, some El Pomar lands, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and possibly the NORAD area in early June. The spray will target two types of moths: the tussock moth and the Western Spruce Budworm. The moths, which are native to the area, have reached epidemic levels. That's a problem, because the larval moths feed on certain spruce and fir trees, defoliating them. While a strong tree might be able to survive losing part of its foliage, or even all of its foliage, for a single year, repeat attacks sap the tree's strength and kill it.

The area will be sprayed with a bacteria commonly found in soil, foliage, wildlife, water, and air. It kills moths and butterflies if they feed on impacted plants while in their larval stage.

Naturally, some people are concerned about the spray and want to learn more. The city will host an open house today about the spray:

Tussock Moth Aerial Treatment Plan Public Open House

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Pikes Peak Region is currently experiencing a rather aggressive infestation of two species of defoliating moths in our forests; the Douglas-fir Tussock Moth and Western Spruce Budworm which is causing thousands of trees to become defoliated, or have the needles eaten down to the branch or twig. These trees are brown and “look dead", although many may not be. In order to protect our forests, the City of Colorado Springs' Forestry Division will be implementing an aerial treatment plan in early summer of 2016.

The public open house will take place on:
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
6 to 8 p.m.
Gold Camp Elementary
1805 Preserve Dr.
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Special thanks to our partners: El Paso County, Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado State Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Colorado State Parks.

For more information, please visit https://www.coloradosprings.gov/tussock.

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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Photo tour: Mt Buckhorn Loop

Posted By on Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 8:30 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
The North Cheyenne Canyon area isn't known for it's loop trails, most are "out-and-back." And most of those that are loops tend to be rather long. But one of my favorite loops, especially when I don't want a days-long trek, is on Mt Buckhorn.

The trail starts and ends at the "gavel pit" parking lot where High Drive, Cheyenne Canon Road and Gold Camp Road meet, just past Helen Hunt Falls. At just under 4-miles and about 740' of elevation gain, it's doable for most people. An added bonus is some great views to the south and also of downtown Colorado Springs.

To get there: From the entrance to North Cheyenne Cañon Park, continue through the park, past Helen Hunt Falls, until the paved road ends. Park in the large dirt lot on the left. The trail starts behind the gate on the west end of the parking lot.

Slideshow
Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike
Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike

Photo tour: Mt. Buckhorn Loop Hike

By Bob Falcone

Click to View 9 slides



Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.









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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Photo tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space

Posted By on Sat, Apr 2, 2016 at 9:07 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
One of Douglas County's newest parks, the Lincoln Mountain Open Space is a nice park with great views. Its multi-use trails range from easy to moderate, making them great for families and hikers who prefer easier trails. Mountain biking and horseback riding are also popular in the park.

To get there: Take Highway 83 north to Douglas County Road 80 and turn left (west). The parking lot is a half-mile down on the right.

Slideshow
Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space
Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space

Photo Tour: Lincoln Mountain Open Space

By Bob Falcone

Click to View 16 slides



Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Oil Well Flats is mountain bike majesty

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 2:01 PM

I heard some scuttlebutt about a new mountain biking circuit in Cañon City called Oil Well Flats, thanks in part to recent articles by The Gazette and Pinkbike

To answer the latter's query regarding "will Canon City be the next Fruita?", it's a little early to say, but sure, I guess most anything's possible. A friend and I greatly enjoyed our ride this past weekend, spending roughly four hours covering the great majority of the expanse. 

I'm not a pro-level mountain biker by any measure, but have biked for 20 years, and found the course quite challenging in several areas. (Yeah, that was me walking down part of Island in the Sky having just pulled a cactus spine out of my foot and many prickly pear needles from my hand.) Overall, it's a blast and I highly recommend it. 

Here's some cell-phone snaps that show the terrain, plus a map of the system that shows your options for which direction you care to ride it first:

A gorgeous view of the mountains. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A gorgeous view of the mountains.

Cool rock formations. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Cool rock formations.


Look out for cows — it's open grazing land. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Look out for cows — it's open grazing land.

A view in Canon City from the crest of the ridge line. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A view in Canon City from the crest of the ridge line.

One section of the Island in the Sky gets cliffy, also showing off some cool carved bowls in the rock. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • One section of the Island in the Sky gets cliffy, also showing off some cool carved bowls in the rock.


Snap a pic on your cell phone to consult while on the trail, because not all the trail markers are up yet. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Snap a pic on your cell phone to consult while on the trail, because not all the trail markers are up yet.

And a PDF map if you so desire:
oil_well_web_10_30_2015.pdf
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Saturday, March 12, 2016

All about water purification

Posted By on Sat, Mar 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM

The water looks good...but don't drink it without purifying first! - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • The water looks good...but don't drink it without purifying first!

One of the keys to staying healthy while enjoying the outdoors is staying hydrated. The semi-arid environment of the Pikes Peak region practically sucks the moisture right out of your body and can lead to dehydration. Worse yet, the effects of altitude sickness — headache, nausea, vomiting and confusion — can be exacerbated by dehydration.

Of course, the obvious solution is to carry water with you while you’re out on the trails. But at around eight-pounds per gallon, water is also the heaviest thing you’ll carry. So how do you stay adequately hydrated while carrying a minimum amount of water? One way is to take advantage of the water around you, but drinking water right out of a creek or pond is dangerous — even deadly — so the  real solution is water purification.

The four most common methods of water purification — boiling, filtering, disinfection (chemical treatment) and ultra-violet (UV) light — all have their positives and negatives.

The United States Centers for Disease Control has tested the effectiveness of boiling, filtration and chemicals against the most common contaminants: Protozoa, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia; Bacteria, such as salmonella, e. coli and others; viruses, such as hepatitis A, norovirus and rotovirus. All of these contaminants share the same symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and general all-around misery. The CDC hasn’t done formal testing of UV light purification, but does offer some guidance in its use.

According to the CDC, the only 100% effective method in killing all of the above contaminants is to boil water for at least three minutes at our elevation. Obviously, boiling can be impractical. You’d need to carry fuel for a fire and a metal container to boil the water in, which isn’t normally carried for a day-hike. If backpacking/camping, you’re likely carrying fuel and metal cookware, but you may not want to use valuable resources to boil water when other methods of purification are available.

When it comes to disinfection, the CDC tested two types of chemicals: Iodine, chlorine and chlorine dioxide, the most popular chemical treatments. These tests proved Iodine and chlorine ineffective against the Cryptosporidium and of limited effectiveness against Giardia. Chlorine Dioxide has limited effectiveness against Cryptosporidium, but is more effective against Giardia than the other two. There are other issues with iodine usage, too; it’s not recommended for use by pregnant women, people with hypersensitivity to Iodine, or for use for more than a few weeks at a time. Some chemical treatments may also change the taste of water.

That brings us to filtration. When done with the proper sized filters, filtration has been found to be effective against Cryptosporidium and Giardia, of only limited effectiveness against bacteria and not at all effective against viruses. Since filtration and disinfection by themselves do not eliminate all contaminants, the CDC recommends doing both when boiling is not an option.

UV light purification, with devices such as the “Steri-pen” and Camelbak’s “All Clear” bottle, has become popular. The CDC has not tested UV light purification systems, but says for UV light to be effective, the water being purified must have low turbidity — cloudiness — and the light must have contact with water for the appropriate amount of time, as specified by the manufacturer. It may be necessary to filter the water, even if just to remove solids that causes turbidity, prior to using the UV light. Running water, such as creeks, waterfalls, etc tend to run clear as opposed to standing water that can be cloudy, so  UV light purification would appear to be most effective with running water

So what should you use for water purification? I’ve been using a Camelbak All-Clear bottle with a sediment filter and have been happy with it. At least, I haven’t gotten sick.

Happy (safe drinking) Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.



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Saturday, March 5, 2016

More spring break hiking in Arizona

Posted By on Sat, Mar 5, 2016 at 1:56 PM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone

Last week, I talked about places to go hiking while vacationing in the Phoenix area. Today, I’ll feature a couple more of my favorite places.

Bell Pass, located north east of Scottsdale in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, offers wide, expansive views of Scottsdale and Phoenix to the west, and as far as the Superstition Mountains to the east. Once you get to the summit of the pass, you can return on the same trail for an approximately 7.5-miles round trip, or continue east and meet up with the Wingate Pass trail, approximately 10-miles round trip.

There is a small trailhead at E. Bell Road and N. 104th Street. From there, take the trail north to the marked Levee Trail and turn right (east). Follow the Levee Trail to the Paradise Trail and turn left (north) to the Gateway Loop Trail, then turn right. Gateway Loop Trail comes to a fork, the right side being the Bell Pass Trail. 

Until this point, the trails have all been rocky and mostly flat, but after about another half-mile the Bell Pass trail starts uphill, including some switchbacks, and becomes rather steep. After approximately another 1.5 miles, you’ll reach the summit of Bell Pass.

To get there: Take the 101 Freeway to Bell Road, then head east on Bell Road. When you pass N. Thompson Peak Parkway, look for the parking lot/trailhead on the left, opposite N. 104th Street. There is no shade on this trail, so wearing a wide brimmed hat and bringing a lot of water is an absolute must.
View to the west from Bell Pass. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • View to the west from Bell Pass.

If you’re looking for something more challenging, Picacho Peak, deserves your attention. Located along I-10, about 76 miles south of Phoenix, Picacho Peak is a very prominent, 3800’ peak jutting out of the surrounding desert.

There are two routes to a saddle about half way up the mountain — they merge at the saddle and share a trail to the summit. The Hunter Trail is a steep, 2-mile trail on the east side of the peak. Another trail, the 3-mile Sunset Vista Trail, follows the north slope of the peak.  When the trails merge at a saddle, things get interesting. The trail goes over to the opposite side of the mountain, down a steep, slick rock incline. So steep, in fact, that a cable has been installed to help hikers down — and back up. The trail then winds its way around to the back side of the mountain, where you'll have to scramble on slick rocks, climb cable ladders, walk on a rickety platform and climb up narrow stairs cut into the rock face.

Once at the top of Picacho, the scenery is spectacular with great 360-degree views of more peaks and the surrounding desert. And the return trip is no less thrilling than the trek from the saddle.  

Obviously, Picacho Peak is for the more adventurous hiker and probably not the best hike for toddlers or anyone not sure of their footing. Proceed at your own (considerable) risk.
Along the Picacho Peak summit trail. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Along the Picacho Peak summit trail.

To get there: Take I-10 south to exit 219 and follow the signs the short distance to Picacho Peak State Park. Entry fees do apply.

View from the summit of Picacho Peak. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • View from the summit of Picacho Peak.
Picacho Peak State Park Trail Map Arizona State Parks

If you’re looking for something a little more family-friendly (and less hair-raising), there are plenty more options in the area. Two of my favorites are the Thunderbird Conservation Area northwest of Phoenix, in Glendale, and Pinnacle Peak Park, located north of Scottsdale.

Within Thunderbird's 1,100-plus acres there are a number of trails ranging from .25- to 5-miles long, and varying from moderate to difficult. It’s very popular with families and has enough hills to offer nice views from almost any trail. You can also link trails together to make longer hikes; my favorites are the Cholla and Arrowhead Point Trails. For more info visit glendaleaz.com

Another family-friendly option, Pinnacle Peak Park, offers a single, 3.5-mile out and back trail that is moderately difficult. Despite its name, the trial goes around Pinnacle Peak, not to the summit. None the less, the well-built and maintained trail is very popular and has very limited parking — you’ll want to plan accordingly if you go. For more information visit this page on scottsdelaz.com.

Obviously there are many more hiking trails in the Phoenix area including Lost Dutchman Park, the rugged Superstition Mountains to the east, the Cave Creek area to the north — or even Sedona — that you could squeeze into your Arizona springs break. But this should get you started.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/hikingbob" target="_blank">@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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